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Publication numberUS3651769 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 28, 1972
Filing dateNov 3, 1969
Priority dateNov 3, 1969
Publication numberUS 3651769 A, US 3651769A, US-A-3651769, US3651769 A, US3651769A
InventorsLaurance J Foley
Original AssigneeLaurance J Foley
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pallet construction
US 3651769 A
Images(4)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[451 air. 2d, 1972 [54] PALLET CONSTRUCTION Laurance J. Foley, 63 Almond Avenue, Los Altos, Calif. 94022 [22] Filed: Nov. 3, 1969 [21] Appl.No.: 873,178

[72] Inventor:

FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1,232,715 10/1960 France ..46/25 Primary ExaminerPaul R. Gilliam [57] ABSTRACT A set of pallet-forming members is provided to form a wide variety of pallet sizes and configurations. The set comprises an elongated main member, at least one extender member shorter than the main member and a still shorter cap member. Connecting means are provided for joining said members to other identical members or to one or more of the other types of members. In any case the joining can be end-to-end to form an elongated unit or in juxtaposed parallel or angular relation. The three members are so dimensioned that when two or more members are joined end-to-end they form a unitary elongated unit of any length over 4 inches which is a multiple of 2 inches, since the main member, extender and cap member are 18, 4 and 2 inches long respectively. A wide variety of pallet sizes and configurations are formed with said pallet forming memhers.

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LAURANCE J. FOLEY PALLET CONSTRUCTION DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART In the field of transporting and storing large numbers of individual pieces, it has long been realized that there is a substantial economic gain to be realized whenever a plurality of pieces can be handled as a unitary load as distinguished from being handled piece-by-piece.

As a result, it has become well known to use pallets on which a plurality of pieces can be transported and stored as a unitary load. Over the years many attempts have been made to increase the versatility of pallets. One need which has long been recognized is to satisfy demands for many widely differing pallet sizes and configurations in an economical manner.

In order to meet this demand, it has previously been proposed to make adjustable pallets. This approach has resulted in making the pallet adjustable in one or two directions by overlapping or telescoping adjacent parts so as to modify the size of the load bearing surfaces. It has also been proposed to provide in combination with telescoping adjustability an arrangement for interconnecting more or fewer parts and thereby modify the size. However, the previously proposed arrangements for telescoping adjustability and using more or fewer parts do not provide the versatility necessary to meet marketplace needs, which versatility will now be described for the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION 24x32 36x42 48x48 32x40 36x48 48x60 32x48 40x48 48x72 36x36 42x42 SBXIDS In addition, a number of different types of pallet configurations are utilized for various special conditions. Some examples of these configurations which appear in the previously referenced publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers are as follows:

one-way two-Way four-way all-way single faced double faced reversible take-it-oFIeave-it special purpose closed deck spaced deck The present invention provides a pallet construction which permits meeting all of the listed variations in size and configuration.

In addition, the present invention provides a pallet construction which permits meeting the listed sizes and configurations, and many other non standard pallets, with an inventory of only three or four basic construction members, thereby avoiding heavy inventory investments.

The structure involved in the present invention which permits meeting the previously stated capabilities comprises a small number of basic members designed to be detachably joined together in end-to-end or juxtaposed arrangement.

In order to provide the desired versatility the basic members include an elongated main member, at least one extender member shorter than the main member, and a still shorter cap member. In one embodiment there is in addition a second version of the extender member. Releasable connecting means are provided for joining the various members together end-toend or in juxtaposed relation.

In order to provide a length variation which is selectable within 2 inch increments, the smallest member or cap member is 2 inches long. The ability to provide a desired substantial size board using a minimum number of members is achieved by making the main members 18 inches long. In order to provide additional versatility in size and configuration the extender members are 4 inches long.

In order to optimize the economy of pallet usage it is provided herein to supply pallet users with a ready source of pallets of many different sizes and configurations in a manner which will permit the user, under a lease arrangement, to return unneeded pallets and obtain needed pallets at a different time or of different size or configuration.

Accordingly the present invention provides a method for circulating pallets which comprises providing pallet exchange centers at spaced geographical locations where pallets are stored in a variety of sizes and configurations, distributed for use by users, received back from users, and redistributed in unmodified form.

These and other objects and features of advantage will be apparent to those skilled in the art from a reading of the following detailed description wherein reference is made to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the elongated main member;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the short cap member;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an intermediate length extender member;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an intermediate length butt extender;

FIG. 5 is a perspective exploded view of a connector;

FIG. 6 is a perspective exploded view of an alternate embodiment of two main members joined with a different type of connector;

FIGS. 7 and 8 are perspective views on reduced scale showing two types of pallets which can be assembled with the parts shown in FIGS. 1-6;

FIGS. 9-12 are detailed views on enlarged scale showing the assembly details of FIG. 7;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view on reduced scale showing another type of pallet which can be assembled with parts shown in FIGS. 1-6;

FIGS. 14 and 15 are detailed views on enlarged scale showing the assembly details for FIG. 13; and

FIG. 16 is a perspective view on reduced scale showing another type of pallet which can be assembled with the parts shown in FIGS. l-6.

Referring in more detail to FIGS. 1-5 the set of pallet forming members comprises in one embodiment a main member 1, a cap member 2, and extender member 3, and a butt extender member 4. Each of the various members is preferably made of the same material such as shaped wood or formed plastic or metal. Each of the members in cross section is preferably 1 inch thick to provide a narrow face 5 and 4 inches wide to provide a wide face 6.

Each of the members is provided throughout its length with joining holes 7 and 8. As shown in FIGS. l-4 the holes 7 are provided in four lines along the length of the members The holes 7 nearest the edges of face 6 have their centers positioned one-half inch from the adjacent edge of face 6, and the remaining holes 7 are spaced on centers 1 inch apart along and across face 6. The holes 8 are in a single line centered on face 5. The holes 8 nearest the ends of face 5 have their centers one-half inch from the ends of face 5 and the remaining holes 8 are spaced on centers l inch apart. In each member holes 7 run completely through the 1 inch dimension and holes 8 run completely through the 4 inch dimension, with the holes through face 5 intersecting those through face 6 at right angles. In FIG. 1 the holes are shown only adjacent the ends of member 1, but it will be understood that they are provided throughout the length of member 1 at the described spacing.

The holes 7 and 8 have a diameter which will receive connectors 14, preferably with a sliding fit between the connectors and the walls of the holes. As shown in FIG. 5 the connectors have a short bolt portion 15 with external threads 16, and a long sleeve portion 17 with internal threads 18. The bolt pormime mm tion and the sleeve portion 17 each has an enlarged head 19. The holes 7 and 8 are countersunk to receive the heads 19 so that the top of the head will be flush with or below the adjacent surface of the pallet member. The heads 19 are recessed at in a conventional manner to receive a turning tool such as a Phillips head screw driver. In a preferred embodiment the outside diameter of the sleeve 17 is about one quarter inch. The outside surface of the sleeve is the part which makes contact with the walls of the holes. The diameter of the heads 19 is preferably about three-eights inch.

The main member 1 and the extender member 3 each has a tenon 22 at one end and a mortise 23 at the other end. The cap member 2 and the butt extender 4 each has a mortise 23 extending into each end. The mortises 23 are all deep enough to receive a tenon 22 on an adjacent member 1 or 3 so that when the two members are joined end-to-end they will abut to form continuous exterior surfaces. In a preferred form the tenons are one-half inch thick, 2 inches wide and 2 inches long, and the mortises are dimensioned to provide a sliding fit for the tenons.

Each of the tenons has four holes 7 through its wide face. The holes 7' are positioned on the same lines as two lines of holes 7 in the main portions of members I-4. In addition the holes 7 are spaced on 1 inch centers vertically and horizontally, and the holes 7' have their centers one-half inch form the adjacent edges of the tenon. Each of the tenons also has two holes 8' through its narrow face. The holes 8' are in line with the holes 8 in the main portions of members 14, and holes 8 have their centers 1 inch apart and one-half inch from the ends of the tenon. Thus, when one of the tenons 22 is received in a mortise 23, the holes 7 and 8' in the tenon will be aligned with holes 7 and 8 through the receiving mortise.

Once this assembly of mortise and tenon members is made they are securely held together by inserting the sleeve portion 17 of a connector 14 into one end of a hole 7 or 8, inserting the bolt 15 from the other end of the hole, and screwing them together. Obviously, more than one connector 14 can be used if desired for additional strength. The length of the connector unit 14 when the bolt portion 15 and sleeve portion 17 are tightened together in a hole 7 or 8 is dimensioned so that the connector unit will not extend out of the hole. As will be hereinafter described in more detail, longer connector units are provided for joining the members in juxtaposed relation.

The main member 1 is 18 inches long from its mortised end to the base of the tenon at its opposite end. The extender member 3 is 4 inches long from its mortised end to the base of the tenon at its opposite end. The main member is thus defined to have an effective length of 18 inches and the extender member is defined to have an effective length of 4 inches. The butt extender 4 is 4 inches long and the cap 2 is 2 inches long. The selection of the stated lengths for the various members results in composite boards which are an even number of inches in length regardless of the number or variety of members which are joined end-to-end to make the composite board. In order to meet the requirements for facilitating the entry of load wheels on certain types of transporting devices, the members can be chamferred along their edges in conventional manner (not shown).

A modified embodiment for end-to-end connection of the members is shown in FIG. 6. In this embodiment the mortises and tenons are replaced by special connectors as will be hereinafter described in detail.

Referring now in detail to the use of the parts shown in FIGS. 1-5, FIGS. 7 and 8 show two examples of pallets which can be constructed with such parts. FIGS. 9-12 show details of the connection of the parts with specific reference to FIG. 7.

FIG. 7 shows an all-way pallet having a closed deck. The all-way designation means that a lifting truck with spaced apart lifting forks can retrieve or discharge the pallet by inserting the forks from any side or any corner. This is accomplished by supporting the deck on the eight spaced legs 22. If desired for added strength, an additional leg can be placed at the center of the pallet. In connection with the legs 22, it should be noted that the parts in FIGS. 1-5 not only provide elongated stringers and the elongated deck boards on top of the stringers but also provide properly dimensioned legs. As used herein the term deck boards defines the surface members on which the load will be supported, and the term stringers" or stringer boards" defines the continuous members on which the deck boards are mounted. The term closed deck" means that the deck boards are butted together to provide a completely continuous deck surface. The pallet shown in FIG. 7 is 48 inches by 40 inches in size. The 48 inch dimension is given first in keeping with the custom of statinglength of the stringers first.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 9 each of the three stringers is made up of two main members 1, two extender members 3 and one butt extender 4. As shown in FIG. 9 the left main member 1 and the two extenders 3 have their tenons pointing to the right, and the right main member 1 has its tenon pointing to the left. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 10 the deck consists of 12 deck boards each of which is made up of two main members 1 having their tenons facing each other and received in an intermediate butt extender 4.

FIGS. 9-12 show one arrangement for location of the connectors 14. It will be understood that the connectors 14 and holes 7 and 8 are not shown in the reduced scale of FIG. 7, and subsequent FIGS. 8, 13, and 16, as distinguished from the enlarged scale of FIGS. 9-12. More or fewer connectors than are suggested in FIGS. 9-12 can be used if greater or less strength and rigidity are required. In FIGS. 9-12 connectors 14 are passed through tenons where tenons are received in the mortises of adjacent members. While this is desirable where maximum strength and rigidity are required, it is not actually required to use connectors through tenons wherever adjacent mortise and tenon members are held against longitudinal separation by other members. In the construction shown in FIGS. 9-12 two sizes of connectors are required, one which is long enough to go through two inches and one which is long enough to go through 5 inches. The construction shown in FIGS. 9-12 involves a single assembly procedure as distinguished from making up parts as subassemblies. In some cases it may be desirable to make up subassemblies such as the posts 22, the stringers, and the deck boards, and then connect these parts together using different holes for the final assembly connectors than the holes that were used for the connectors employed to make the subassemblies.

It should be understood that other combinations and arrangements of members 1-4 could be employed to make the stringers and deck boards in FIG. 7. For example, the 48 inch stringers could be made by placing an extender member 3 at each end with its tenon received in an adjacent main member 1, and a center butt extender 4 receiving the tenons of the two main members. The 40 inch deck boards could be made by placing the tenon of an end main member in the mortise of a second main member, and placing a butt extender over the tenon of the second main member. Obviously, other arrangements could also be made by replacing the main members with a number of smaller members. For example, a 40 inch length can be made of nine extenders 3 and one butt extender 4. Similarly a 48 inch length can be made of eleven extenders 3 and one butt extender 4. However, the preferred approach is to employ as many main members as is possible in any given length.

It should also be understood that although the pallet in FIG. 7 is shown to have one dimension of 40 inches and another dimension of 48 inches it could have any of the previously listed standard dimensions and in addition other desired dimensions which are multiples of 2 inches. By way of example the following chart shows combinations of members 1-4 required to form any length from 24 through 108 inches, in 2 inch increments. The headings in the chart show the types of members as follows: MM represents the main member 1, E represents the extender member 3, BE represents the butt extender 4, an C" represents the cap member 2. The numbers in the figures in the body of the chart are the quantity of each member as required. For example, a 42 inch length can be made with two main members, one extender and one cap member.

Length of Composite board MM E BE C 24 I l l 26 l I I 28 l 2 1 30 l 2 l 32 l 3 l 34 l 3 I 36 l 4 l 38 2 I 40 2 1 42 2 l l 44 2 l l 46 2 2 l 48 2 2 l 50 2 3 l 52 2 3 I 54 2 4 I 56 3 l 58 3 I 60 3 I l 62 3 I l 64 3 2 l 66 3 2 l 68 3 3 1 7O 3 3 l 72 3 4 I 74 4 l 76 4 l 78 4 l l 80 4 I I 82 4 2 l 84 4 2 I 86 4 3 I 88 4 3 l 90 4 4 l 92 5 l 94 S l 96 5 I I 98 5 l 1 I 2 1 I02 5 2 1 I04 5 3 1 I06 5 3 I I08 5 4 1 FIG. 8 shows another example of pallet configuration which can be made with the parts shown in FIGS. 1-5. The pallet in FIG. 8 is an example of a reversible pallet, in other words a pallet which has identical top and bottom deck surfaces. FIG. 8 uses plural units of three butt extenders 4 to form eight or nine spacers 23 which are placed similar to the legs 22 in FIG. 7 except that they space the two decks rather than rest on the ground. FIG. 8 shows that the deck boards can be spaced apart to conserve pallet components, reduce weight, simplify assembly, provide ventilation, or for any other desired purpose. In FIG. 8 the six 40 inch stringers are each formed by two main members and one butt extender as explained for the 40 inch deck boards in FIG. 7. The 14 48 inch deck boards in FIG. 8 are each formed by extender members 3 at each end having their tenons received in the mortises of two intermediate main members 1 which have their tenons received in the mortises of a center butt extender 4.

FIG. 13 shows an example of a take-it-or-leave-it pallet. This terminology means that the entire pallet can be lifted by inserting the forks of a lift truck below the 40 inch stringers, or the load can be lifted without the pallet by inserting the lift forks above the 40 inch stringers and below the tops of the 48 inch deck boards. This operation of course requires a load which is movable as a unit, for example, a stack of sheets of plywood. FIG. 13 also shows that the members 1-4 can be used with their wide faces 6 positioned vertical instead of horizontal where such arrangement is desired for added strength or additional spacing vertical. FIGS. 1 and show in detail an exemplary arrangement of connectors 14 for use where the members l-4 are arranged vertical. In the arrangement shown in FIGS. 13-15 three connector sizes are required, one size to go through one inch to join the stringer members I and 4, one size to go through 2 inches to connect two members side by side, and one size to go through 9 inches to connect three members one above the other. On the under side of FIG. 13 it will be seen that the members can be arranged to form continuous supporting runners 24, as well as the separate supporting posts 22 of FIG. 7. In FIG. 13 the 40 inch length of the stringers is formed by two end main members 1 arranged with their tenons projecting into a central butt extender 4. The 48 inch deck boards are formed in the same manner as the 48 inch deck boards in FIG. 8 except that the deck boards in FIG. 13 are oriented with their wide face 6 vertical.

FIG. 16 shows a special purpose pallet having open portions 25. Thus the pallet of FIG. 16 can accommodate a special purpose load, such as four items which have a 4 or 5 inch deep base which is received in openings 25 and outwardly extending rim portions which rest on the members ll, 3, and 4 which rim the openings 25. Obviously other special purpose configurations can also be assembled. In FIG. 16 the 40 inch stringers are each made of two main members 1 and a central butt ex tender 4 as described for FIG. 13. The three 48 inch continuous end deck boards at the edges of the pallet are each made of two extender members 3, two intermediate main members 1 and a center butt extender 4 in the manner described for the deck boards of FIG. 13. The four 48 inch continuous deck boards in the center of the pallet are made in the same manner. The four pairs of short deck boards at the ends of the pallet are each made of two butt extenders 4. The four pairs of short deck boards in the center of the pallet are each made of two extender members 3 with their tenons received in a center butt extender 4.

As explained in connection with FIG. 7 it will be understood that the pallet configurations in FIGS. 3, 13 and 16 can have different sizes.

Referring now in more detail to FIG. 6 it will be seen that an arrangement is provided for coupling members together endto-end without requiring the tenons 22 and mortises 23. In FIG. 6, elements which bear a similarity to elements in F IGS. l-5 are designated with primed reference number. More specifically the members I in FIG. 6 can be connected with U-shaped connectors 14. The connectors 14 each comprise two short bolt portions 15 which are the same as bolts 15 in FIG. 5. In FIG. 6 there are long internally threaded sleeve portions 17' which are integrally connected to rectangular head portions 19'. The internally threaded ends of the sleeve portions 17' receive the bolts 15. The connectors 14' are provided in two dimensions. One is provided for passing through the four inch dimension of the members and has a short head portion 19 and long sleeve portions 17'. The short head portion 19' is received in a rectangular recess formed by grooves 25 in each of the ends of the members l. The other connector 14' is dimensioned to pass through the 1 inch dimension of the members and has a long head portion 19 and short sleeve portions 17. The long head portion 19' is received in a rectangular recess formed by grooves 26 in each of the ends of the members 1'. In order to obtain extra rigidity both of the connectors 14 are employed at the junction of the two members 1'. If less rigidity is required only one of the connectors 14' need be used. If only one of the connectors is used a preferred arrangement employs the bolt connector with the long heads 19' if the members 1 are positioned with their wide faces 6 horizontal, and employs the bolt connector with the short heads 19 if the members 1 are positioned with their wide faces 6 vertical.

In FIG. 6 it should be understood that although the main member 1' is shown by way of example, the junction between the ends of main members 1' applies in the same manner to the 2 inch cap members 2 and to the 4 inch members 3 and 4. In other words members 2, 3, and 4 do not require any mortises and tenons. More importantly it is not necessary to have two versions of a 4 inch member. Instead, only one 4 inch member is required without any mortises or tenon. In addition, the absence of tenons means that the actual length of the three members will be the same as their effective lengths;

nun-m A. I

namely 18, 4 and 2 inches, respectively. The connector arrangement of FIG. 6 is preferred only for connecting the members end-to-end. When the members are connected in juxtaposed relation it is preferred that the connectors 14 be employed as previously explained, inserting the connectors 14 in holes 7 or 8 which have not been occupied with the connectors 14 The special location and spacing of holes described herein offers a design feature which permits pallet adaptation, such as, attaching side walls to form a pallet bin for transporting bulk commodities and small packages, attaching pilfer covers, inserting casters to facilitate hand movement of loaded pallets, anchoring vertical corner struts for converting from a basic pallet to a stacking pallet and anchoring special purpose shock mounts or the load itself to the pallets deck surface.

In order to optimize the economy of pallet usage a plurality of exchange centers are provided at spaced geographical locations. At each center pallets are stored in a variety of sizes and configurations. in addition the centers preferably maintain a supply of the pallet members and connecting means described herein, and assemble said members and connecting means to form pallets of desired sizes and configurations. Each center receives orders from and distributes pallets to pallet users. The pallets are preferably leased to the users on a per diem basis so that the users capital is not required for pallets. The centers receive back from the users any pallets which the users desire to return so that the users are only required to keep pallets which they need. Pallets which are returned to the centers by pallet users may be stored at the centers as received or may be disassembled and the components stored at the centers, or the returned pallets may be modified by adding or removing pallet members. In addition, pallets are circulated among the exchange centers in accordance with the needs of users in the geographical areas covered by the respective centers.

The invention is claimed as follows:

1. A pallet comprising individual pallet-forming members, some of said members being positioned together in end-to-end relation to form stringer boards, and others of said members being positioned together in end-to-end relation to form deck boards, at least one of said deck boards being formed of said members having effective lengths different from each other, said deck boards being removably positioned on said stringer boards in selectable different locations, and releasable connecting means for securing said members-together in said endto-end relation to form said stringer boards and deck boards and for securing said deck boards on said stringer boards, said stringer board members having apertures spaced therealong receiving said means for securing said deck boards to said stringer boards, and said deck board members having apertures therealong at the same spacing as the spacing between said apertures in said stringer board members, all of said apertures existing prior to insertion of said connecting means therein.

2. A pallet as claimed in claim 1 comprising additional pallet-forming members positioned under said stringer boards, and releasable connecting means for securing said additional pallet-forming members to said stinger boards in selectable different locations, said additional members being identical to at least one the members used to form said boards.

3. A pallet as claimed in claim 1 in which said pallet-forming members each has a wide face and a narrow face, and said connecting means permit connecting said deck boards to said stringer boards with either the wide face or narrow face of the deck board abutting the stringer board.

4. A pallet as claimed in claim 1 in which some of said deck boards are spaced end-to-end from others of said deck boards to provide open space along the line of the end-to-end spaced deck boards.

5. A pallet as claimed in claim 1 in which said connecting means are received in holes in said pallet-forming members, said holes being spaced from each other on one inch centers along said pallet-forming members, and said holes adjacent the ends of said pallet-forming members bein centered onehalf inch from the ends of said members, an at least one of said connecting means passing through holes in adjacent ends of two of said deck board members and in one of said stringer board members, whereby said two deck board members are joined to each other and to said one stringer board by the same connecting means.

6. A pallet as claimed in claim 5 in which said holes pass through said pallet-forming members from different sides of the members with the holes through one side intersecting those through the other side at right angles.

7. A pallet as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of said members has an effective length of 18 inches, at least one of said members has an effective length of four inches, at least one of said members has an effective length of 2 inches, and releasable connecting means for joining any two of said members end-to-end or side-to-side.

8. A pallet-forming set as claimed in claim 7 in which said connecting means comprise holes through said members, said holes being spaced entirely along said effective length of each member on one inch centers with the holes adjacent the ends of said lengths having their centers one-half inch from said ends, and bolt means receivable through said holes.

9. A pallet-forming set as claimed in claim 8 in which each of said members is rectangular in cross section to provide a wide face and a narrow face, said holes being located along said narrow face with the centers of the holes on the center line of said face, and said holes being located along the said wide face with the centers of the holes on plural lines parallel to the edges of said wide face, said parallel lines being 1 inch apart, and said parallel lines adjacent the edges of said wide face being one-half inch from the adjacent edge.

10. A pallet-forming set as claimed in claim 9 in which said wide face dimension is 4 inches and said narrow face dimension is 1 inch.

11. A pallet, as claimed in claim 1, comprising a pallet forming set wherein at least one of said pallet forming members is an elongated main member, at least two of said pallet forming members are two extender members shorter than said main member, a cap member shorter than said extender members, said main member and one of said extender members each having a tenon at one end and a mortise at the opposite end, the other of said extender members having a mortise at each end, said cap member having a mortise in one end and being of uniform external cross section throughout its length, said tenons being receivable in said mortises, means for releasably holding said tenons in said mortises, said main member having a length of 18 inches, said extender members each having a length of 4 inches, and said cap member having a length of 2 inches, all said lengths being exclusive of said tenons.

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